NPR Music

If there was a Mount Rushmore of the benchmark greats of American music, Merle Haggard would have to be on it. He was among the greatest of his or any generation of country performers. A true triple-threat, his prowess as a guitarist and fiddler could only be eclipsed by his greatness as a vocalist and songwriter. He was also a true entertainer with charisma and seemingly effortless stage presence.

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Barbara Lea On Piano Jazz

Apr 8, 2016

Vocalist Barbara Lea (1929–2011) was a widely respected and admired interpreter of classic American popular song. She began her career in the 1950s, and the Downbeat Critics Poll of 1956 recognized her as "Best New Singer."

While Kristine Leschper was singing her songs behind my desk, in the crowd was a tiny baby in a stroller. As I watched the child and the band, I couldn't help but think about both the promise and innocence of youth and the struggles of adulthood, as Leschper sang:

We lived unloved in unmade beds

You wore me like a necklace

You closed me like a locket

'Behold': Moondog With A French Twist

Apr 8, 2016

With his long beard, homemade horned helmet, flowing cloak and spear, he was known as the Viking of Sixth Avenue. He was born Louis Thomas Hardin in Marysville, Kan. in 1916 and later called himself Moondog. At 16, he was blinded while fiddling with a blasting cap.

Latin Roots: Boogaloo

Apr 7, 2016

Producer Aaron Levinson joins World Cafe for a Latin Roots discussion of boogaloo, the Latin music and dance craze that burst out of New York City in the mid-1960s. The elders might have been threatened by this new sound, which boasted English-language lyrics, but the kids didn't care. Levinson spins a couple of crossover hits in the segment above; check out his Spotify playlist for further boogaloo favorites.

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down joins World Cafe for a set recorded live from lead singer Thao Nguyen's home in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band recently released its fourth album, A Man Alive, which was produced by Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs. Nguyen says the title alludes to her ongoing estrangement from her father.

Hear the full conversation and performance in the player above.

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